Associated Produce Inc. came on to the fresh produce industry in 2008, and since then, it has grown tremendously fast. The company is located on Casanova Street, just outside of the Hunts Point terminal market in the Bronx, NY.
Dimitri Soyfer, president of the firm, told The Produce News that its strongest focus is on tropical fruits and vegetables, but that it now also carries a full line of conventional produce.
In early April, the company opened a new division called Associated Produce CASH’n’CARRY, which is located in the company’s newly expanded facility at the same location.
“We expanded into the warehouse next door,” said Mr. Soyfer. “The space is 7,000 square feet, which, when added to our existing 15,000 square feet, puts us at 22,000. Our fast and steady growth dictated this expansion. By increasing our product line to all categories of fruits and vegetables — and even grocery items — we are now a one-stop shop for our customers.”
He noted that in the few years since he started the company, it has grown to be one of the larger tropical fruit and vegetable companies in the area. Its tropical produce items are produced by its growing partners in South and Central America, as well as domestically. It packages its fruits and vegetables under “Associated Produce” and “Valdi” brands.
Mr. Soyfer said that a new hire made the transition into a conventional line of fresh produce smooth but strong.
“Michael Turco joined us recently,” he said. “He has a long and reputable history in the fresh produce industry, and his family members were in it before him. Michael is handling commercial sales for Associated Produce.”
Mr. Soyfer has a unique background in the fresh produce industry. He originally focused on exporting Florida citrus to Russia. And he handled all of the financials and marketing for the export business, which he said is his expertise. It was a natural entrance into the produce business for him because he is from Russia He jokingly says that people refer to him as the Russian Casanova. But people are mostly surprised to see this young company flourish and expand so quickly.
Associated Produce’s facility provides an unbroken cold chain to properly handle the company’s now extensive line, 90 percent of which is purchased direct from farms. Each room of the warehouse has ethylene filters with atmosphere controlled exhaust.
“The facility’s equipment insures quality and extends the shelf life of the product that we deliver to our customers,” said Mr. Soyfer. “New software enables us to trace produce down to the box, to the farm and even to the field where it was produced.”
“Our fleet of trucks ensures orders make deliveries in a timely fashion,” he continued. “We pride ourselves on carrying the best quality at rock bottom prices. No customer is too big or too small: they can buy one box or a container load, and will get the same great service in every instance. Our business depends on the success of our customers and so we do everything in our power to give them the tools they need to succeed.”
The company also supports local growers during their production seasons.
“Our company has moved from a very quiet spot to a really strong business in a very short amount of time,” said Mr. Soyfer.
“And our growth has only just begun. Once a customer finds out about Associated Produce, they become regular steady customers. We like to look at them as our partners,” he added.